Internet retailer posts loss as traditional outlets fight on

Crocus reports £1.1 million loss for 2004 and expects £550,000 loss for year to October 2005

Online retailers are still struggling to make money in the current economic climate although internet sales continue to grow. Internet garden retailer Crocus this year posted a £1.1m loss on sales of £3.3m for the year to October 2004 and expects to post a loss of £550,000 for the year to October 2005. Managing director Mark Fane says Christmas figures had been more disappointing than expected: “We hoped to grow by 30 per cent for Christmas this year. Instead we’ve seen 20 per cent growth.” But he remains optimistic that the firm will break even within the next year. He said: “The latest unpublished management figures show that our turnover is currently around £4.8m and we will show around a £550,000 loss in the year to October 2005. In a year’s time we should be breaking even.” He said that his private backers retained confidence in the business, which is attracting large numbers of experienced gardeners. Bourne Valley Garden Centre in Surrey saw sales increase to £1.9m in the year to August 2004 with profits holding at £96,000. Manager Paul Cowland believes consumers want the physical shopping experience an outlet offers and is not surprised that internet retailers are suffering. “We have felt slightly threatened by internet retailers but I think consumers realise it doesn’t hold long-term prospects,” he said. Wych Cross Nurseries saw sales increase to £1.4m with profits up 42 per cent to £170,000.

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